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Austin entrepreneurs named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list

A pair of Austin-based entrepreneurs have received major recognition after being named to the prestigious Forbes '30 Under 30' list. 

A pair of Austin-based entrepreneurs have received major recognition after being named to the prestigious Forbes '30 Under 30' list.

"Excited. Honored. Forbes is a popular publication. Been around forever," explained Joshua Dziabiak, the COO of The Zebra.

Dziabiak, along with partner and CEO Adam Lyons, founded the company in 2012.

The website allows users to instantly compare auto insurance rates from entering in basic data.

While their success is noteworthy enough, their beginnings make it even more impressive.

"Like Josh, (I) dropped out of high school at a young age. I was 15, moved out of the house," said Lyons.

But these were not your typical dropouts.

"Well I started my first company when I was 14. So I was a bit of a nerd if you will," joked Dziabiak. "In front of the computer, using dial-up connection, fascinated with the concept that I can connect with anybody in the world over the Internet. Started designing websites, and that kind of turned into a business for me."

Lyons took a different path, one that would lead to the beginning of The Zebra.

"(After moving out of the house), went back to school, and learned about insurance. Actually got sent to London to learn about Lloyd's for a bit, which was a really great experience. And that's what got me into the industry and just saw how antiquated everything was in the space, and how really wanted to change that and improve that," explained Lyons.

The pair, both from Pittsburgh, linked up through one of Dziabiak's other companies, and began The Zebra in 2012. Using that Pittsburgh connection, they decided to reach out to the Steel City's most famous entrepreneur: Shark Tank star and billionaire investor Mark Cuban.

"I actually cold-emailed Mark Cuban. And we went back and forth, and then he became one of our larger investors. And since that time, we've developed a great relationship with Mark," explained Lyons.

A year later, they moved to Austin, and over the summer, to a two-floor penthouse of a downtown Austin office building.

The walls - covered in black and white artwork. The steps - zebra print representative of the name.

"No one understood, still in many cases, doesn't understand insurance and we really wanted to make that black and white, thus the zebra," said Lyons as he explained the company's name.

Now - a major honor highlighting their success.

"We get to try and find new ways to bring technology to consumers in an industry that's been kind of slow to adopt it," said Dziabiak.

The company has expanded to sixty full-time employees, and is now the most trafficked car insurance comparison website in the United States.

While they've seen consistent year-over-year growth, both say they're looking forward to the future.

"The dream for us has always been to build a brand. I get excited about coming to work everyday, figuring out how to create awareness for the company, how to create user value from the product," explained Dziabiak.

"As entrepreneurs we set very, very high goals. Create very ambitious goals. So (we're) very pleased with the progress we've made and how far we've come. But I think we still see ourselves just getting started and have a long way to go," said Lyons.

"(Forbes) 40 Under 40, that's what's next," joked Dziabiak.

The pair will be speakers at the upcoming SXSW Festival, where they plan to meet up with Cuban.

If you're interested in learning about The Zebra, click here.

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